Gravitas Ventures

How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town

How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town

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The ingenuity of writer-director Jeremy LaLonde’s How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town ends with its title. This innocuous comedy about good ol’ American prudishness follows a slut-shamed small-town girl, Cassie Cranston (Jewel Staite), who grew up to be a sex columnist in the big city as she comes back to her hometown and is compelled into organizing a sex party. It turns out that the town folk resent her for trash-talking their town in her articles and are bent on convincing her that they aren’t as repressed as she says they are. While the self-conscious play on sexually explicit material may suggest Shortbus, even the Eating Out series, LaLonde weaves his story with a penchant for the cartoonish, as though the point were to beat America’s notorious discomfort with bodily pleasures like a piñata instead of discovering new sides to that established cliché.

Even if Cassie warns that “there will be surprises,” a prude’s worst nightmare, her group-sex approach is sterile and hyper-pragmatic, just like the event’s attendees, who start waxing themselves and getting ahold of Viagra pills in preparation. There are seating charts, timers, hands-on coaching (“If you arch your back I think it’ll allow at least another inch of penetration”), therapeutic group pep talks, (un)dress rehearsals, and preemptive first-dibs-type polling of who would like to get penetrated by whom.

As preparations go on, we begin to wonder what the big event’s surprises will be, besides mere “queefs,” which Cassie predicts will happen. Will the sex party lead up to a series of secret revelations that will devastate the town, akin to Kevin Kline’s coming out in In & Out? Or will nobody show up in the end, mimicking Denise Calls Up’s memorable denouement? Instead, all we get is the rehashing of a series of anodyne characters’ hang-ups (someone is a virgin, someone else will only have sex if she’s ovulating) and a failed attempt at weaving together the lives of multiple small-town citizens who act like caricatures moved by uninspired dialogue, not desire.

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DVD
Distributor
Gravitas Ventures
Runtime
100 min
Rating
NR
Year
2015
Director
Jeremy LaLonde
Screenwriter
Jeremy LaLonde
Cast
Jewel Staite, Lauren Lee Smith, Katharine Isabelle, Ennis Esmer